August 31, 2012

The Menu: 8-31

Today we're trying something a bit new here on Catfish's Dishes.  The Menu.  Not an actual menu--I'm not going to give you advice on which appetizers go best with the theme of Labor Day--but a weekly rundown of the best food related links on the Internet.  "Why?" You might ask.  Well, it's a big World Wide Web out there, and while I can't take the time to editorialize on everything that interests me, The Menu can help me to establish a shared language with my readers.

August 28, 2012

DK Donuts (Review)

So..................................................................................................................who doesn't like donuts?

DK Donuts & Little Bean Espresso (1300 W State St, Boise, ID 83702 (208) 385-7480) has a special place in my heart.  For about a year I lived just across the street, in a dilapidated house that contained no less than four raging alcoholics at a time.  My place was in the basement, where I avoided much of the drama in exchange for mildew.  I didn't have much money at the time, and most of my food came in the form of Ramen noodles or canned food graciously given by churches.  Still, everyone needs an occasional treat, and mine was DK.  Every other weekend, said basement would be filled with a collection of my nerd friends, where we would stay up late into the night playing Dungeons and Dragons.  After the party had slain the heroes (because of course, everyone wanted to play as the bad guys,) we would venture over to DK, where plenty of fresh donuts could be found in spite of the late hour.

August 22, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, Walnut, and Pear Pizza (Recipe)

I don't often attempt to recreate meals I've eaten at restaurants at home. Part of that is due to budgetary constraints; that is, most of my dining out these days is limited to breakfast dinners and pizza places, with a smattering of fast food joints both local and global. Simply put, I make better food at home than most of the things I leave the house to buy. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, the truly great food I've eaten at restaurants I have decided to leave at restaurants so that I'll have something to look forward to. Recently, though, I chose to make an exception on account of a special occasion. It was my seventh anniversary, and we hadn't really made any plans to celebrate. During the summer of 2005, it seemed terribly romantic to place our wedding so that it would fall in the middle of the twelve day stretch between Wife's birthday and my own, but while it's cute to tell people that the entire month of August is a party, it can be taxing when you begin budgeting and you realize that special occasions are happening faster than you can get paid. Add in an annual tradition of going to the fair and two children who are now at the age where they need copious amounts of school supplies, and something's got to give. So a night at a hotel (our favorite treat, even if we don't leave town,) or even a trip to the theater wasn't going to happen. [Full Disclosure: We do intend to go see "Snow White and the Huntsman" when it hits the dollar theater. But it's less dramatic if I admit I can just celebrate later. And besides, there is something special about acknowledging special days on the days themselves.] The only place our anniversary was allowed to exist, within the constraints of our budget, was in meal planning. Luckily, something I'd been meaning to investigate for the purpose of this blog--grilled pizza--happened to co-exist within the same parameters as something that qualified as a romantic memory--dinner at the Red Rock Brew Publt Lake. Last summer we went to visit our good friend Lotus (she who prompted all the vegetarian recipes I posted this summer,) and when Wife pooh-pooed all of the Asian restaurants that were suggested (to no one's surprise,) we ended up at a brew pub. In case you didn't know it, Salt Lake actually has a pretty strong brewing culture, despite government mandated handicaps. While I loved the chipotle barbecue salmon I ordered, and the rest of our party's food was tasty, the dish I attempted to recreate for my special day is what Wife ordered for that meal, a pizza containing caramelized, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and juicy pears.

August 13, 2012

Homemade Ketchup

I like to cook, which I would assume you know from the fact that I take the time to blog about it.  I enjoy grilling, roasting, baking.  But I've never gotten around to what I consider to be one of the most impressive aspects of cooking:  making ingredients from scratch.

I mean, sure, I've made a vinaigrette when I didn't want to use the last clump of store bought dressing.  And I've made sauces as part of a larger recipe.  But I've never made homemade noodles, never made cheese or given life to dry mustard with my favorite beer.  Heck, I've never made beer.  Other than creating some salsas for a Cinco De Mayo party (whose lack of presence on this blog I may need to rectify,) I've left the artisan aspects of cooking to others.  That may have to change.

Despite my history of laziness (which some of you may have noticed during the month or so I didn't post here.....this time or the other time during the winter,) I have dipped my toes into the world of gardening the last two summers.  The first time around it was just tomatoes, and I didn't get many before my lassez-faire attitude towards watering killed my dreams of bounty.  This year, I fared a bit better, and while I killed my peas after only one harvest (and my jalapenos grew and grew without ever getting spicy,) I have been collecting zucchini and tomatoes all summer.  Enough tomatoes that when I went out and collected the most recent batch I looked at them and knew--they were ketchup.

August 9, 2012

The Sunrise Cafe (Review)

While my "real" job is as steady as can be, Wife often finds herself in flux.  Not that she is ever worried about being laid off, thankfully; her employment is more solid than that.  But working in child care, her hours can vary pretty wildly, especially during the summer.  Kids vanish for summer vacations, then come back with siblings who are normally in elementary school.  Some checks are small, and others....well, let's just say others prompt us to go out for breakfast on a Saturday morning.

It was that way last Saturday, when we came out from under a little financial dark cloud and decided to celebrate by getting something to eat.  We knew we'd have a great breakfast at the Egg Factory, but I'd already written about it.  That meant leaving the neighborhood, hitting a chain, or going to either Merrit's or The Sunrise Cafe.  The former is well known in town for being the "Home of the Scone" (despite the fact that what they serve, while amazing, is actually a sweetened fry-bread, not the hard English tea-time snack,) but the latter, in my opinion, has often gone unrecognized for having the best biscuits around.  Wife didn't care, so I voted biscuit, and we drove over to the Sunrise Cafe (7135 West State Street, Boise, ID 83714

Quick Bite: The Lunch Special at Papa Joe's

Truth is, as much as I've loved working on Catfish's Dishes, I haven't had much time lately.  Big changes have been transpiring at the job I'm actually paid to do, and sneaking in some editing during shift hasn't been an option.  However, I knew I needed to get out my camera as soon as I decided to eat lunch at Papa Joe's.

One of the transitions at work has been that for the last three weeks, I've been coming to work in the daytime, after eight years of working the graveyard shift.  So while my goal is to always brown-bag it, on the days that I need to eat out my options have exploded a hundred fold.  I'm no longer stuck between Burger King, Los Betos, and the WinCo deli.  There are tons of options, even within walking distance.  So last Friday when I forgot my lunch in my haste to organize my Dungeons and Dragons maps for the weekend, I decided to give one of those options a try.